Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Review - Vigil by Angela Slatter.

I know what you're thinking.

I know, because I had the same thoughts prior to reading this book.

You're thinking about the fact that this is another urban fantasy title in a market already flooded with urban fantasy. You're also thinking about whether or not this book will offer anything different to the thousands of other titles released over the past few years. Something that will make it worth checking out.

So let me make this clear from the outset.

Vigil is a stunning and refreshing book, and it is a must read for any fan of the genre.

I loved so many things about Vigil that I'm struggling to keep this review concise and to the point. So let me start with the blindingly obvious. Verity Fassbinder, the main character of this book, is one of best protagonists I've read in years. She is snarky, sardonic in a very Australian manner, smart, and also incredibly normal. I loved her from the moment she was introduced, and adored her growth throughout the book. What made her fresh and unique was her normality. She doesn't have a huge wellspring of hidden power, or a tortured past that plagues and hampers her ability to monitor the boundaries between the normal world and the Weyrd. She just is Verity, a normal (well, as normal as you can be with one human and one Weyrd parent) Australian woman doing her job. The other characters in this book are also incredibly strong, with each playing their part wonderfully as Verity lets her investigations run their course, and all hell breaks loose as horrors are unleashed on the streets. 

The backdrop and setting for Vigil is also evocative and wonderful. I was enthralled by Slatter's descriptive and edgy world building, and I loved how a mundane, yet stark and gritty Brisbane, was brought to life and made the norm. This environment added a real noir moodiness and flavour to the story, and made the instances of supernatural activity, where the Weyrd would break through the veil, jarring and incredibly riveting. This is not a book where the supernatural is openly spotted or glamourised. Instead, Slatter roots the supernatural directly within our world, and casts it in a fashion that is more matter of fact and grounded. Your baker literally could be Weyrd, and you wouldn't know unless they wanted you to know.

The plot of Vigil is also incredible, with Slatter weaving a wonderful tapestry of thrilling mystery, jarring twists and turns, and mind bending action sequences. Vigil literally oozes menace and enjoyment, and its fast paced storyline had me hooked from the opening pages. Slatter knows how to structure a story, and I adored trawling through all of the little subplots and threads as they unfolded throughout the book. There are some awesome cultural references that make this story VERY Australian (references to the Brisbane floods for example), and I adored the little nods towards other authors who have set their speculative fiction in Brisbane as well. 

If I had one small criticism it would be that some of the little nuances and cultural references may be lost on international readers. For me though, it's wonderful to see another Australian based urban fantasy standing tall and proud of its heritage. 

Vigil is an absolute powerhouse of a book. Slatter has taken urban fantasy by the horns, and given it the kick up the arse that it needed. Original, addictive, and a shitload of awesome, Vigil is a must read for all fans of speculative fiction. I for one cannot wait for the next instalment to appear. Let the adventures in 'Brisneyland' continue!  

5 out of 5 stars. 

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